working-groups image

Freshwater Working Group News

The Freshwater Working Group will post information on this web page pertaining to upcoming informal meetings, events in freshwater conservation, symposia and other items of interest. Please check back regularly to see new developments in Freshwater News.

World Fish Migration Day, 21 May 2016: Share Your Story

In recognition of World Fish Migration Day, SCB's Freshwater Working Group (FWWG), the Freshwater Ecology and Conservation Lab at the University of Washington, and the World Fish Migration Foundation are hosting a 24-hour streaming video event which celebrates free flowing and connected rivers. ... Read more in the March 2016 newsletter.

Fish Sanctuaries for Sustainable Livelihoods: World Wetlands Day Celebration 2016 in Kerala, India

World Wetlands Day (WWD) 2016 was celebrated in Kerala, India by dedicating five small fish sanctuaries in Vembanad Lake -  ... Read more here.

ICCB 2015: Barriers to Aquatic Biodiversity Symposium and awarding first ever Freshwater Conservation Science Student Award

Read more here.

Conservation Scientists Come Together to Haiku

... two SCB scientists, Sam Oester and Steph Januchowski-Hartley, have been exploring different ways of sharing and communicating with others about the environment and conservation... Read more here.

FWWG 2014 Freshwater Working Group Board members

In January 2014, the SCB FWWG board welcomed five new/renewed members: Jorge Celi, Julian Olden, Viktor Lagutov, Sukhmani Kaur Mantel, and Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley.  Board members met in person at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Portland Oregon, and the FWWG held an open meeting at the NACCB Conference in Missoula, Montana, USA in July.  The FWWWG worked on multiple projects this year.  First, the group reviewed a Draft American Fisheries Society policy paper on mining, agreed to support the paper, and also discussed writing a similar paper with a more global scope.  Second, a subgroup of the board drafted a position paper on dams, entitled “Ensuring social and environmental sustainability in the new age of hydropower under President Obama’s All-of-the-above Energy Strategy.” Third, the group reviewed and discussed the underrepresentation of freshwater science in the society and developed ideas on ways to increase participation, including the drafting of an opinion letter to the journal.  The FWWG finished the year by preparing and submitting two symposium proposals (on dams, and on integrating ecological and social sciences) and planning for a social event at ICCB.  The board is also developing a student award program.

FWWG 2013 Freshwater Working Group Newsletter

The SCB FWWG board and members met in person at the SCB meeting in Baltimore, MD, in July 2013 to network, establish shared interests and discuss future group initiatives.   Harmony Patricio, FWWG board member, also sponsored a session, “Starting at the bottom: Optimizing conservation outcomes for “high priority” species by understanding the links between freshwater and persistence”, which was a success.   At the end of 2013, the board elected four new board members (Julian Olden, Viktor Lagutov,  Jorge Celi, and Sukhmani Kaur Mantel) and a new President Elect, Harmony Patricio. In their final meeting of 2013, the board established procedures for improved communications, identified several policy and science topics to pursue, and identified opportunities for social events to broaden their engagement within the society.   

FWWG 2012 Freshwater Working Group Newsletter

In 2012, the SCB FWWG welcomed three new Board members:  Maureen Ryan, Raymond Timm, and Wendy Palen.  Major topics identified by the working group for future collaboration include: 
1) Developing methods to identify threatened freshwater ecosystems, and what the policy mechanisms and practice implications are for listing these in various countries;  2) Identifying challenges in free-flowing rivers, and even greater challenges in protecting them - what mechanisms exist for this across the globe;  3) Bringing together the fields of environmental flows (predominantly water sector focused) and conservation planning (predominantly biodiversity sector focused);  4) Quantifying the biggest pressures and key processes in risk to freshwater ecosystems and identifying the mechanisms to deal with these from a global perspective; and 5) Linking freshwater biodiversity with livelihoods and human health.  The FWWG plans to support a session at the 2013 meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

FWWG 2011 Freshwater Working Group Newsletter

In 2011, the SCB FWWG welcomed five new Board members: Ana Filipa Filipe; Harmony Christine Patricio; Sukhmani Mantel; Viktor Lagutov; and Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan.  We also say goodbye and extend our thanks for their service to the WG over the last two years - to our former President and four of our board members: Mordecai Ogada; Lisa Bonneau; Aventino Kasangaki; Michael Marchetti; and Eren Turak.   In March 2011, the FWWG held a Skype call with members from across the world and identified collaboration ideas.  Additionally, member Ken Vance-Borland continued to send monthly digests of relevant freshwater papers to the larger group. Members in attendance at the New Zealand meeting met up informally to share views on the science of freshwater conservation.

FWWG February 2008 Newsletter

Chattanooga 2008
Board member Than Hitt coordinated a successful proposal for a four-hour symposium titled “Advances in freshwater conservation planning.” The symposium will “bring conservation scientists and practitioners together to address several key challenges and opportunities for freshwater conservation across the globe. Contributors to this session represent academic institutions, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, including perspectives of Europe, North America, Central America, Africa, and Australia. By addressing freshwater conservation strategies from a "landscape" perspective, the…symposium [will] contribute to the theme of the conference "from the mountains to the sea."”

Than is also helping organize a joint marine and freshwater evening social to be held at the Tennessee Aquarium, and is working with the Freshwater Mussel Conservation Society to organize a field trip to the Duck River. Please plan to attend these and other Freshwater Working Group events, and contact Than for details, to offer ideas, or to help organize freshwater activities at the next Annual Meeting.

Board member elections
FWWG elections were held in December. Than Hitt (Virginia Tech, USA) was re-elected, and we have four new Board members: Kunjuraman Jayachandran (Kerala Agricultural University, India), Ravi Shanker Kanoje (retired, India), Michael Marchetti (UC Davis, USA), and Jeanne Nel (CSIR, South Africa). Many thanks to them for their willingness to work for freshwater conservation, and a special thanks to our retiring Board members: Changqing Yu, Dirk Roux, Josh Viers, and Xianfeng Zhang. Your work is greatly appreciated!

Freshwater education
The FWWG Education Committee (Simon Linke, Than Hitt, and Lisa Bonneau) are developing a freshwater ecology/conservation module for the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP – Contact Simon if you’re interested in contributing to this effort.

-Ken Vance-Borland

FWWG November 2007 Newsletter

We now have 584 members, having gained 104 members in the current year thanks to The Nature Conservancy sponsorships for developing country members. However, only 225 members subscribe to the listserv. We encourage you to subscribe here

Chattanooga 2008
The area around the location of the 2008 SCB meeting is known for its high freshwater biodiversity and we would like to have a big presence at the meeting so as to highlight freshwater conservation issues. Board member Than Hitt agreed to serve as a liaison between FWWG and the local organizing committee for SCB 2008. Among other things, he is coordinating proposals for a symposium titled “Advances in freshwater conservation planning.” Please contact Than for details, to offer ideas, or to help organize freshwater activities at the next Annual Meeting.

Board member elections
FWWG elections will run from 5th November to 1st December 2007. Four board member positions are open and each successful nominee will serve a 2-year term from 1st January 2008 to 31st December 2009. Our bylaws require at least 10% turnout for a valid election, so PLEASE VOTE!

In September FWWG board member Simon Linke was named "Riversymposium Young Water Scientist of the Year 2007" during the 10th International River Symposium and Environmental Flows Conference in Brisbane, Australia ( for his work on "Systematic conservation planning in riverine landscapes". Simon is the first ecologist to receive this award (previous winners were engineers and hydrologists). In his closing plenary he dedicated the award to everyone who worked in promoting systematic approaches in freshwater systems. He also stated that it showed that the discipline of conservation biology has grown up and is now en par with engineering or hydrology in terms of scientific rigor and relevance to stakeholders. Congratulations Simon!

-Aventino Kasangaki

FWWG August 2007 Newsletter

TNC sponsored memberships
We recruited 76 new or renewing members from developing nations under the TNC sponsorship program. Thanks to TNC and to all those who nominated candidates for the sponsorship. We encourage the newly recruited members to become active in the working group.

21st Annual Meeting
The Freshwater Working Group was well represented at the meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Six out of ten Board Members and many FWWG members were in attendance, and there were more freshwater activities than ever. FWWG members Pierre de Villiers and Joshua Viers coordinated a pre-conference workshop on biodiversity conservation in vineyard settings. Held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, this workshop had over 50 international attendees from a variety of sectors, including researchers, students, growers, and politicians. The workshop explicitly used a catchment to coast framework to help frame the issues, challenges, and future directions of conservation on working landscapes. A field day included visits to areas being cleared of alien vegetation and prepared for stream rehabilitation. Several FWWG members gave guest lectures on the freshwater day of Bob Pressey’s pre-conference short course “Systematic conservation planning and the role of software: from data to implementation and management.” Topics presented on the freshwater day included: differences between terrestrial and freshwater planning; catchment mapping; longitudinal connectivity; application of the whole planning process to freshwater environments; planning for climate change; and case studies from Australia and South Africa.

On 1st July a freshwater-oriented field trip initiated by the working group and organized by the Albany Museum went to the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area. Issues such as alien invasive freshwater fishes and the effects of road networks on freshwater ecosystems were discussed during the trip. Many thanks to the organizers and guides from the Albany Museum.

We were excited to be able to add freshwater issues to the SCB policy discussion during the workshop organized by SCB Policy Director John Fitzgerald. FWWG Board Member Dirk Roux presented five freshwater policy priorities to workshop participants: 1) striving for maximum hydrologic connectivity; 2) dealing with widespread degradation; 3) achieving cooperation across sectors and spheres of government; 4) facilitating co-learning in multi-use environments; and 5) recognizing increasing human consumption of freshwater resources.

A variety of freshwater talks (33) were presented at the meeting in three contributed paper sessions dedicated to freshwater conservation: Fish Conservation, Freshwater Conservation, and Wetland conservation. Almost 20 posters presented at the meeting had freshwater-related subjects. Two freshwater-oriented symposia were held, including “Freshwater conservation assessment, planning, governance and management: case studies, emerging issues, and key lessons from around the world,” organized by Jeanne Nel and colleagues. Six of our board members gave talks in that symposium and FWWG member Mao Angua-Amis received a student award for his talk entitled “Do freshwater and terrestrial priorities overlap in conservation assessments?” Congratulations Mao!

On 3rd July 2007 we held a FWWG board meeting with 50% of the Board Members in attendance. We agreed to a bylaws change adding the past president as an ex-officio board member. Simon Linke reported that during the previous day's SCB education committee meeting he committed to developing a college-level freshwater conservation course for the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) website ( We agreed to continue working closely with John Fitzgerald, SCB Policy Director, in the aftermath of his very positive reception of the policy issues Dirk presented at John's policy workshop. We also agreed to complete our strategic planning before the end of the year, after first thoroughly digesting the results of our members’ survey.

FWWG board members also met with David Aborn, organizer of the 2008 Annual Meeting in Chattanooga, to discuss possible freshwater activities next year. We intend to take good advantage of the high freshwater biodiversity in the region, and the fact that the Tennessee Aquarium ( in Chattanooga houses the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, to ensure that freshwater conservation issues have a high profile at the 2008 Meeting. We agreed to begin recruiting people who would be interested in either joining one of our committees or helping out with a specific project for next year's meeting, including freshwater field trips, symposia, workshops, and of course fundraising. If you would like to help in any way, please contact us at the addresses below.

We also had fun social events at the Meeting. Mordy Ogada produced a series of beautiful FWWG T-shirts; many of them sold, and we donated the remainder to the local organizing committee in recognition of all their hard work. Dirk Roux and Jeanne Nel organized a FWWG dinner at the delightful Mediterranean Restaurant that was well attended, with all of the reserved tables filled up. Mao Amis organized the FWWG 5K fun walk/run that was held on 3rd July.
Join the Freshwater Working Group by logging into your SCB member account and going to ‘My Section and Working Group Affiliations.’

-Aventino Kasangaki and Ken Vance-Borland

Catch and release science and its application to conservation and management

- As posted in SCB February 2006 Newsletter -


In August 2005, a symposium was convened at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Anchorage Alaska on the topic of “Catch-and-release science and its application to conservation and management”.  The symposium was co-sponsored by the Freshwater Working Group of SCB and the Fisheries Management Section of AFS.  The symposium included 21 high quality presentations and concluded with a lively facilitated discussion. This comprehensive symposium was the first to bring together a diverse group of catch-and-release researchers since the early 1990’s covering freshwater and marine systems.  Presentations focused on topics such as hooking injury and mortality, gear technology (e.g., circle hooks), physiological disturbances associated with angling, energetic/behavioral/fitness alterations following release, human dimensions of catch-and-release, and disseminating research findings to anglers through outreach.

Although participants presented unique contributions on different taxa and problems, there was a common theme of identifying generalized patterns relevant to conservation and management.  Another theme of the symposium involved elevating the status of recreational angling among the global conservation community because the negative effects of recreational fisheries tend to be overshadowed by commercial fisheries.  Emphasizing the global nature of recreational fisheries, presentations were delivered on catch-and-release in Norway, Namibia, the Bahamas, and Germany.  Although many of the contributions identified potential negative consequences of catch-and-release angling, most went on to actually suggest simple ways to remedy the problems.  For example, several presenters identified that fish angled during the reproductive period can have reduced reproductive success.  However, this can be remedied by avoiding angling during those times when fish are engaged in reproductive activity.  Another presentation focused on how to educate anglers on issues associated with capture of fish in deep water.  The presenter summarized all available techniques for returning fish to depth, focusing on techniques that have been developed for anglers by anglers.  There seemed to be consensus that changing angler behavior and gear through outreach and education may be more effective than through regulation.  Another contribution summarized all hooking mortality data in an attempt to evaluate whether catch-and-release angling was compatible with the premise of no-take aquatic protected areas.  The conservation community can expect to hear much more on catch-and-release angling and recreational fisheries in the coming years with some of that research undoubtedly destined to appear in leading conservation journals.

Steven Cooke, Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON

News leading up to and surrounding the 2005 SCB Meeting in Brasilia, Brasil

The Social Committee has been in contact with the head office of SCB and is working on securing funds for hosting a social at the upcoming SCB meeting in Brasilia. Look for future updates on list serve and/or web site postings. For more information or to help out, contact Michele Thieme ( We hope to see you there!

The Symposia and Workshops Committee has been very active. The committee lead, Ken Vance-Borland, has submitted the following update:

Freshwater conservation will be well-represented at the SCB 2005 Annual Meeting in Brasilia: six of the 24 successful symposium proposals (including two that were organized by Freshwater Working Group members) have primarily freshwater themes. Symposia include, among others, the effects of frontier expansion on the ecology and biodiversity of the Amazon River; conservation of Amazonian varzea (whitewater floodplain) systems; and case studies in freshwater conservation from five of the SCB regional sections. There will also be freshwater presentations in other symposia, and in contributed paper and poster sessions.

The SCB Freshwater Working Group was established at the 2003 annual meeting “to help promote freshwater conservation concerns within the Society and the discipline at large.” We cannot take full credit for the apparent surge in freshwater presence at the 2005 Meeting compared to past meetings, but we are certainly pleased and hope it is a trend that will continue. Miguel Marini, a 2005 Meeting host and chair of the Symposia/Workshops Committee, says: “Freshwater and capacity building will be the two major topics of the meeting. My feeling is that the meeting will be a must for the freshwater people.” We hope many of you will attend and add your expertise to this important freshwater conservation event.
For more information about this committee or to help out, contact Ken Vance-Borland (
The Student Affairs Committee has developed a mission and goals for 2005.

Mission: to increase student involvement in the freshwater working group and the issues it represents; to help coordinate communication between students and professionals/academics in the field; to provide a forum through which students can address particular questions or needs.
Goals for this year: create list of student membership and advertise the working group to students to increase membership; make a student-only list serve; plan an event at the Brasilia meeting to allow networking between students and professionals/academics; create a list of potential funding sources that might enable students to travel to the Brasilia meeting

For more information or to help out, please contact Emily Gaenzle Schilling (
The Extra-SCB Outreach Committee is exploring the possibility of hosting a joint NABS-SCB activity at the 2005 NABS meeting in New Orleans. For more information or to help out, contact Trey Simmons (

The Communications Committee has had little work to do, because the list serve has gotten minimal traffic, and submissions for the newsletter have been virtually nonexistent. Please, take advantage of these communications forums (especially the newsletter)! For more information or to help out, contact Mary Khoury (

And finally, some notes from the working group coordinator (Robin Abell -
- If you are new to this list, please take a moment to look at minutes from our past two meetings, posted at:
- I have not been very good about updating the web site, largely because there has been very little new material to post. Please send any suggestions for the web site to me.

- We will have our third annual working group meeting at the 2005 SCB conference in Brasilia. Have ideas for topics to cover, or ways to bring in new members? Please send them to me, and I will share them with the appropriate committees. We hope that everyone reading this who goes to Brasilia will attend the working group meeting.
- While I am not sure how useful it was last year, I will attempt to compile a list of freshwater-related talks, posters, and symposia scheduled for the 2005 Brasilia meeting, and I will post the list in advance on the freshwater working group web site If someone else would like to take on this task, I would be happy to turn it over.

- Want to take on a role in the SCB working group? Please contact committee coordinators, OR consider volunteering for other positions. If you have an interest in an existing position (coordinator, secretary, or list serve moderator) or a new one (e.g. web site developer), but you will be unable to attend the Brasilia meeting, please let me know by e-mail. I plan to send out a more formal call for 'nominations' as July approaches.
- As always, please share any ideas for improving or building the working group. The group has been slow to develop much cohesion or energy over the past two years, though we have certainly made some good progress, particularly with regard to symposia. I am eager to energize the group and enlarge its purpose if a critical mass of other members share my enthusiasm, but I am not sure how to do this, especially given the high turnover of members at each annual conference. Ken Vance-Borland has suggested giving our group more structure, as the Social Science Working Group has done (see -- if anyone has opinions about this, please share them. This may be a topic to discuss within the framework of the listserv.